Friday, 26 July 2013

Shiny Happy People

One sunny Wednesday afternoon, I went for a walk in Urumqi's people's park.


In the park is a big ferris wheel, from which one has a nice view over the city and the sourrounding mountains:




On my way to a small pagoda, I met a funny Uyghur family. 


The father was scroupulously recording every detail of the family excursion on his video camera, so after I met them walking down the stairs, we had to film again how I met them walking down the stairs.

Then I met these guys:


In the meantime, a bit further down the hill, people were dancing on a leafy square:






I have always been impressed by the many different things Chinese people do in their parks. If they don't dance, they play music and sing:




...keep themselves fit...



...play games...


...play ping pong...


...or fish in the park's many ponds and then sell the fish to passers-by:


Shiny happy people.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Gate to Kashgaria

Early one morning in Kashgar, I rented a bicycle and left the city westwards, towards the Pamir mountains.

A bit outside of the city centre, the ambling cyclist soon finds himself in a maze of small roads and villages. A fresh wind was blowing, along the roadside small brooks purled along, and children were playing in the streets.




After some time, I came to a small village square. The place was still very quiet and sleepy.


A bit further along the road stood a mosque.


In the fields between the villages, people were working, while their children were playing in the ditches near to the road.






Taking a rest under a tree, I all of a sudden saw something that looked like an old gate or fortress:















Getting closer, one could see that the structure was indeed a fortified gate. During my journey to Kashgar, I had been reading Gary Jennings' The Journeyer, where Jennings describes Marco Polo's travels to China. In the book, the Polos were stopped at a desert gate before being allowed to continue towards Kashgar.

Although I have no proof, I'm sure that this must have been the place:



On the gate, I met two dudes who had also made the trip from Kashgar. Together, we watched a tractor slowly passing through the gate and rattling out into the fields.

 

The gate was actually quite large, and also had a second entrance further South.


On my way back, I passed by a small lake in front of a cemetery. The place reminded me of an old puppet fairy-tale that my sister and I had watched on TV in the early 1980s - the story of Kalif Storch (when the caliph and his vizir get to the lake - see here from 10:00 onwards).



Shortly before reaching again the centre of Kashgar, I came through a village that was privileged to have public radio broadcasts in every street (a bit like in these old cultural revolution movies).



In this way, people always stay informed.